Dyldam Parramatta Eels Head Coach Brad Arthur has praised his side’s hunger as the Blue and Gold overcame personnel changes and injuries to post a 20-12 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
With Captain Kieran Foran on leave from the side, Brad Takairangi stepped into the halves, and when Michael Gordon left the field with a corked thigh, winger Clint Gutherson deputised as fullback.
“I’m very proud of our playing group at the moment,” Arthur said.
“It’s not ideal but the boys have been very good at knowing when the need to switch on and put on a performance.”
“There’s been ample opportunity over 4, 5, 6 weeks where we could find excuses [not to win] if [we] really wanted to. And again this week there’s a couple of excuses if we really wanted to find them.”
“But they work hard during the week and they want to win. That [performance] just shows there’s plenty of desire and hunger in their bellies. They wanted to play for Kieran, but they wanted to play for themselves too, they wanted to play for their fans.”
“There’s a lot of accountability to each other. There was a performance there for Kieran, but also there’s a real sense of belief. They can’t let anyone down in the team.”
Arthur admitted that Takairangi had been angling for a start in the halves, while Gutherson made an impact in his unexpected move to the back.
“He’s always been itching to get in there,” Arthur joked.
“Takaz is a really good footballer, he’s got a good footy head. He kept it nice and simple tonight and stuck to his strengths and it worked for us.”
“I thought [Gutherson] was pretty good actually, he created some opportunities through the middle of the field and got us on the front foot our of redzone there a couple of times and we played off the back off that."
The Eels’ coach singled out Beau Scott - who skippered the side in Round 9 - as a key support for playmaker Corey Norman, who was tapped as man of the match in the Friday night win.
“Normy’s playing well,” Arthur said.
“But he’s had a lot of practice over the last two years of leading the team around, so it wasn’t foreign to him tonight. I think he’s got a lot of help round him, a lot of calm heads. In particular, probably Beauy’s been really good for Normy.”